Surrey brewer uses copyright concern as part of storyline

SURREY — After a hasty change to the label, the first beer in a new line from Central City Brewers is ready to hit store shelves once again.

The brew in question is called Detective Saison, which is the first of a new series of comic book inspired beers by the local brewer. The beers will fall under the Central City banner and will each represent a character in an overarching storyline set in the fictitious Central City.

However, the label for the line’s debut brew had to be redone after it was discovered the design used for the Detective Saison character resembled that of an existing comic book character. After the initial label was removed, Central City is back with a new design for Detective Saison, and they’ve even incorporated the redesign into their storyline.

“In a murky case of stolen identity, Central City Brewers has successfully rescued the real Detective Saison, who was kidnapped last week by thugs working against the brewer,” reads a release sent out Monday.

“An impostor posed as Detective Saison, deceiving the brewer…but with the help of the craft beer community, Central City saw through the impostor and took matters into their own hands, exposing the impostor, and freeing the real Detective Saison who was held captive at an undisclosed location.”

Tim Barnes, vice president of sales and marketing for the brewer, said the idea behind the line was to create a sort of mythos around the concept of Central City as its own locale.

“The idea came from really looking at comic books like Batman where you’ve got Gotham City, or Spider Man — a lot of them will have a city backdrop that is then brought to life through characters,” he explained. “By creating each new beer as a character (we’re hoping) the story itself will take on a life of its own. Our hope is that over time, our customers will actually guide the story as much as we will and they’ll tell us if they want the character to come back or if they want us to kill them.”

Upon first glance, the inspirations are definitely there. The look and feel of the imagery used by Central City Brewers would be familiar to anyone who grew up reading Dick Tracy, or for those who enjoy film noirs.

But with that in mind, Barnes said they also wanted to be careful not to draw any parallels between Central City and Surrey.

“We did it for the drama but we wanted to be careful about, we didn’t want to draw any parallels to Surrey and didn’t want (Surrey) to be a negative place,” he explained. “We wanted to create a backdrop that’s challenged, but have the beers bring it to life and give it hope.”

Barnes also noted that the beers being released under the Central City banner will differ from those under its popular Red Racer brand, which he hopes will distinguish the company’s various endeavours.

“A lot of people know us as Red Racer, or in the U.S. we’re Red Betty, so they don’t really know the brewery that well,” he said. “So we wanted to do more to promote Central City as a brewery.”

Currently the storyline is being played out on the Central City Brewers website, but Barnes added they weren’t ruling out publishing their own comic book in the future. With four character beers coming out this year, that all depends on where the story goes, he said.

“Hopefully this works and it resonates with craft beer lovers and customers get excited about the next beer. Part of what we’re trying to do is create that excitement around the next release. So who’s the next character, where is the story going?”

The newly designed Detective Saison bottles are set to hit store shelves in early April and for the first instalment of the Central City story, click here.

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